21 October 2008

"The Real America"

At an Oct. 16 fundraiser in Greensboro, N.C., Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin said the following remarks:
“We believe that the best of America is not all in Washington, D.C. We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation.
“This is where we find the kindness and the goodness and the courage of everyday Americans. Those who are running our factories and teaching our kids and growing our food and are fighting our wars for us. Those who are protecting us in uniform. Those who are protecting the virtues of freedom.”
While I understand what Palin was trying to say, these remarks anger me. The inference, in case you miss it, is that you aren’t a real American unless you are “pro-American,” meaning that you don’t mind that your phones are tapped and don’t mind that Americans are still being killed in Iraq in a war that was started for dubious and politically-based reasons. Get real, Sarah; contrary to what some in your party may believe, those who don’t subscribe to “conservative values” (which, as far as I can tell, revolve around railing against government spending yet driving up record deficits, and telling “Big Government” to stay out of their lives yet demand passage of amendments to the Constitution that would impact the lives of others) aren’t hoping to see America fail. Speaking for myself, I want to see an America that’s different than the one we’ve seen since G.W. took office.
I want an America where I cam be assured that wars will be a last resort, instead of something dead set on before a president even moves his furniture into the Oval Office.
I want an America where any wars that DO happen will be for good reasons, not ones that later turn out to be wildly false and exaggerated.
I want an America where I don’t have to worry about being spied on for my own “protection.”
I want an America where the wealth is shared from the top down, rather than seeing the ultra-rich get even richer while people like me, in the middle, who see that the only number in their life that doesn’t rise is the number of their salary.
Sarah, I’m a pro-American as you. I love this country as much as you. It’s in what we want to see that makes us different. And if this, in your eyes, makes me un-American, then we’ll simply have to agree to disagree.
Before 9/11, I used to consider myself patriotic. I felt that it was a matter of realizing and recognizing the sacrifices made by those who came before you, and remembering that the freedoms we are given are not given lightly. However, in the wake of everything that has happened since, I feel cheated. I feel as though those feelings ended up being used to generate fervor to approve of things that turned out to be less than true. I wanted to believe that Iraq had WMD. I wanted to believe that we were doing the right thing by making this massive undertaking. I prayed every night before the invasion that this war wouldn’t happen. When it did, I tried to get behind it as best I could. My illusion rapidly fell apart, as it soon became apparent that there were no WMDs, that Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11 and that we’d committed to something it was proving impossible to get out of.
So long as I have a conscience, I can’t subscribe to the notion of Palin’s “very patriotic, very pro-American” areas of this country.” Patriots come from all over, in all shapes and shades, and none have completely matching views. It is a narrow mind that automatically separates “dissent” and “patriotism” from each other; the terms are sometimes synonymous.

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